Welcome to my Food, Fitness & Fiction blog! You can subscribe to my blog via RSS feed. If you’re interested in being a guest blogger or would like me to take a look at your book or product for a possible review/feature on the blog, please email me at Enjoy!

Experts' Wishes for New Dietary Guidelines

I’m so excited for the unveiling of new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) policy document, scheduled for next Monday, January 31, 2011 (at 10:00 am EST to be exact). Released every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), these latest evidence-based nutritional recommendations are designed to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. According to the report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee launched last June, some changes are expected–big slashes in sodium, and perhaps more of a push for particular foods like nuts and fish. But we won’t know what will change (or stay the same) until the final guidelines are formally announced and posted on

In anticipation of DGA, I’ve asked a few registered dietitians around the country to answer a simple question: If you had one wish for the new dietary guidelines, what would it be and why? Here’s what they had to say:

Counting Calories

“I wish they’d focus on calories as the most important factor for weight management. People are so worried about what foods they should and shouldn’t eat that they lose sight of the fact that calorie control is the ultimate key to weight management.”

~Karen Ansel, MS, RD, Syosset, NY-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association

Separating Sugar

“I hope they highlight sugar, specifically added and natural sugar recommendations. Consumers are confused when looking at a nutrition label because there’s no differentiation between natural and added sugars. We’re being told to limit our intake of added sugars, but most don’t understand how to do that besides doing the obvious–cutting back on soda and candy. Sugar is added to so many products consumers might not realize, like condiments, frozen meals, and even salty snacks. Implementing recommendations that help consumers understand more about natural versus added sugars would be a great addition to the guidelines.”

~Janel Ovrut, MS, RD, LDN, Boston MA

Pushing Plants

“I’d love to see a better, more specific focus on plant protein sources. Including them in the protein group is fine, but supporting information on how often and how much is desirable, and how to achieve these goals would help people shift their intake. This shift helps decrease consumption of saturated fat and boosts fiber and phytonutrient intake while maintaining protein quality.”

~Connie Diekman, M.Ed, RD, LD, FADA,
Director of University Nutrition, Washington University, St Louis, MO and past president, American Dietetic Association.

“I hope they put a special emphasis on vegetables since Americans aren’t getting enough of them. When it comes to vegetables, more is usually better. Eating them can promote weight loss by providing lots fiber (to help fill you up) and tons of valuable nutrients, yet often with few calories.  Consuming vegetables is also associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”

~Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT, New York, NY

Focused on Fiber

“I’d like to see the guidelines once again reinforce the nutritional importance of eating enough dietary fiber and connect the dots between getting our fill of fibers by focusing on eating adequate servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Consuming more of these nutrient-packed foods will automatically help us get closer to the dietary fiber goal of greater than 25 g/day (not to mention help us get enough of other nutrients we fall short on in the diet including vitamins A, C, D, and choline, calcium, magnesium and potassium.) Essentially, getting sufficient fiber can lay the groundwork for nutritional adequacy in our diets.”

~Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, Alexandria, VA

Debating the Grains

“I hope they’ll take the sentence “make half your grains whole” out. Why not recommend that people make all their grain servings whole? People aren’t going to follow the guidelines 100% all the time, so why set the bar low at only half? People might be confused and think that having half of their grains as whole grains is enough, or that making more than half their grains whole is undesirable. Plus, the norm should be that all the grains we eat are whole, not the opposite.”

~Nour El-Zibdeh, RD, Fairfax, Virginia

Going Vegetarian

“I would love to see the new guidelines incorporate more concrete guidelines for vegetarians and vegans. Consumers who identify themselves as such are growing rapidly as is the marketplace and too many people don’t know how to eat properly on a meat-free diet. Many of the vegetarian tips and meal ideas in the old guidelines include swapping out meat for cheese, or mainly promote cheese-based meals. This can be confusing for the consumer since most of the readily available cheese-based meals in America, like pizza, don’t use reduced fat cheese and therefore make it tough to meet the guidelines’ recommendation to lower saturated fat intake. I hope the new guidelines discuss other ways people can follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and highlight foods like quinoa, a grain that contains protein and can be an integral part of a vegetarian diet.”

~Rachel Berman, RD, CSR, CDN, New York, NY

Passing the Potassium

“With all of the attention on sodium, I hope the guidelines highlight food sources of potassium; most Americans only get about half the recommended amount. Potassium has been shown to blunt the effects of sodium on blood pressure, a condition affecting 1 in 3 American adults. Increasing fruit and veggie intake is a great way to get more potassium.”

~Marisa Moore, MBA, RD, LD, Atlanta, Georgia-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association

Stay tuned….I’ll share with you all the findings of the guidelines and teach you how to make them your own in upcoming articles, blogs, and videos (and even on TV) in the upcoming weeks and months and years……

What’s your one wish for the guidelines?

Print Friendly

About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized and award-winning health and nutrition expert, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books. An avid walker, she loves motivating others to #moveitorloseit. A book lover, she recently earned a certificate in children’s literature from Stony Brook Southampton and is currently working on several young adult novels. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked